Olivier Giroud will carry AC Milan’s Champions League hopes on his broad shoulders on Tuesday when the veteran striker lines up against Borussia Dortmund at the San Siro.
Giroud has been the man for the big occasion since signing for Milan just over two years ago and the seven-time European champions will need his magic touch as they face a key Group F clash off-form and struggling with injuries.
The 37-year-old has scored eight times for Milan this season and reignited their hopes of reaching the last 16 with a trademark headed winner over Paris Saint-Germain earlier this month, his only goal in the competition so far coming when it really mattered.
Giroud wants to prolong his career at Milan, where he has had a hugely successful Indian summer, winning Serie A in 2022 and starring in last season’s run to the Champions League semi-finals.
“I would like to stay. My contract expires next summer but I haven’t spoken to the club about it,” said Giroud in a recent interview with Le Journal du Dimanche.
“I want to keep going and I think I’ve got what it takes to do just that. I can still be useful to the team… coming here has been a blessing for me.”
Giroud’s importance to Milan couldn’t have been clearer on Saturday night when, with the France forward suspended, they struggled to a single-goal win over Fiorentina.
A make-shift forward line led by flop summer signing Luka Jovic barely created a chance against Fiorentina, who were only stopped from snatching a late draw by a miraculous Mike Maignan save in stoppage time.
Missing star winger Rafael Leao and Noah Okafor to injury, Giroud’s two-match Serie A suspension meant Jovic tried, and failed to make an impression.
– Giroud on target –
Serb Jovic, who arrived as a last-minute free transfer after negotiations for Porto striker Mehdi Taremi broke down, is yet to score or set up a single goal in eight league appearances.
His pass did lead to the penalty with which Theo Hernandez won the match but he also missed a huge opportunity to open his Milan account and suffered the ignominy of being substituted by a 15-year-old.
The introduction of Francesco Camarda, Serie A’s youngest ever player, highlighted just how desperate coach Stefano Pioli is in attack and how happy he will be to have Giroud back leading the line against Dortmund.
“The win over PSG boosted our chances and a win against Dortmund would make a huge difference,” Pioli said after Saturday’s win.
“The boys know what kind of performance we need on Tuesday night, and that makes my job easier.”
Beating PSG put Milan third in the group, two points behind leaders Dortmund with PSG sandwiched between the pair in second ahead of their clash with Newcastle United.
It was also by far their best display of a tricky period since October’s international break, in which Saturday’s win was just their second in seven matches.
However Milan will be without their star performer against PSG, Leao, whose hamstring injury has left Giroud bearing the weight of Milan’s attacking ambitions in a match which could define their season.